Photo Credit: NASA
The Artemis I launch team ran into a second issue on Saturday, which may prevent it from completing the entire mission as intended.
Future missions for the ship are scheduled for September and October. However, the team may experience delays with the aforementioned schedules due to the new conditions. According to NASA, depending on the launch team for Artemis I’s assessment, the delays could range from a few days to a few weeks or even months.
The associate administrator from the Exploration Systems Development Mission Doctorate of NASA, Jim Free, said, “We will not be launching in this launch period. We are not where we wanted to be.”
The vessel, which consists of the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System rocket, must be transported to and examined by the Vehicle Assembly Building before being authorized for its upcoming mission by the US Space Force.
Bill Nelson, the administrator of NASA, stated that the scrubs the team experienced do not imply that Artemis I is a failure. He claimed to the media that the Vehicle Assembly Building had already checked and reevaluated Artemis 20 times prior to its intended launch date.
“We do not launch until we think it’s right,” Nelson said. “These teams have labored over that, and that is the conclusion they came to. I look at this as part of our space program, in which safety is the top of the list.”
The scrub that stopped the liftoff
Last Saturday, Artemis I received a call for a scrub from the members three hours leading up to its scheduled launch. The members found a leak of liquid hydrogen. After checking, the team took its time to find a solution.
Since liquid hydrogen is one of the propellants used in the large core of the rocket, it is a crucial requirement for takeoff. Unfortunately, despite the team’s best efforts at troubleshooting, the Artemis I system leak prevented the vessel from taking off.
Prior to the Saturday launch, a minor leak in the same location was also discovered, but the leak discovered on launch day was much larger. The initial diagnosis suggested that excessive pressure may have harmed the liquid hydrogen connection’s soft seal. To ensure that everything is considered, the team stated that more assessments are necessary.
Other problems met by the team
Before the launch was called, Mike Sarafin, the Artemis mission manager, had to make sure everything was in order. And in doing so, they were allowed to postpone takeoff due to a variety of problems repeatedly. The Artemis team had to deal with some issues, including the hydrogen leak.
The delay was brought on by problems with the rocket’s cooling system, persistent leaks, and other minor issues. These issues led to two suspensions of Artemis I. According to NASA, the team had to “close the valve used to fill and drain it, then increase pressure on a ground transfer line using helium to try to reseal it.”
The Artemis team had to cancel the launch plan because the leaking persisted in spite of efforts to stop it. Furthermore, weather forecaster Melody Lovin stated that there was at least a 60% chance of good weather.
The purpose of Artemis I
NASA has been preparing for this mission for a very long time because, if it is successful, it could pave the way for more ambitious manned missions to Mars and the moon.
According to Nelson, “As we embark on the first Artemis test flight, we recall this agency’s storied past, but our eyes are focused not on the immediate future but out there.”
“It’s a future where NASA will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon. And on these increasingly complex missions, astronauts will live and work in deep space, and we’ll develop the science and technology to send the first humans to Mars.”